With brutal cold here to stay, Trump extols the virtues of global warming

Image: A Woman Bundles Up Against the Cold Temperature
A woman bundles up against the cold temperature as she walks in Times Square in Manhattan on December 28, 2017. Copyright Amr Alfiky Reuters
By Phil Helsel and Elizabeth Chuck with NBC News
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Frigid temperatures are expected to grip much of the upper Great Plains and Northeast through the New Year, with forecasters predicting temperatures could approach record-setting cold.

Frigid temperatures are expected to grip much of the upper Great Plains and Northeast through the New Year — a forecast that President Donald Trump used to cast doubt on global warming.

Trump tweeted Thursday night that parts of the eastern U.S. could see the coldest New Year's Eve on record, adding, "Perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming that our Country, but not other countries, was going to pay TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS to protect against."

Temperatures will approach record-setting cold for New Year's Day in Boston; Buffalo, New York; Portland, Maine; Providence, Rhode Island; and Grand Rapids, Michigan, the Weather Channel reported.

While climate change has been accepted by most scientists, including ones in the U.S government, Trump has expressed dubiousness over it before.

His tweet Thursday appeared to be referring to the Paris climate accord, a landmark global agreement meant to curb emissions that contribute to climate change. Trump announced in June that the United States will pull out of the deal.

A comprehensive U.S. report released in November found that evidence of global warming is stronger than ever. The report concluded that it is "extremely likely" — meaning with 95 to 100 percent certainty — that global warming is man-made.

Photos: Arctic blast leaves half the country in deep freeze

Cold spells and global warming are not necessarily independent of one another. According to the Weather Channel, from January through November, this year's average temperature in the U.S. was the third warmest in records dating back to 1895.

The notion that colder temperatures means that global warming can't exist is a "zombie theory" long refuted by science, said Dr. J. Marshall Shepherd, the director of the University of Georgia's atmospheric sciences program and a past president of the American Meteorological Society who has written about the subject.

"The 'cold weather means no climate change' is one of the most persistent" of these theories, Shepherd told NBC News via email. "The public, however, might be surprised to know that in 2017, there were roughly three times as many record high temperatures as record lows. It is critical to not get caught up in 'here and now' warming or 'where I live warming.' It's global warming and most of the globe is above normal right now."

Two deaths were blamed on the current cold snap in Cook County, Illinois, the medical examiner's office said, and one person was killed in more than 1,000 crashes in Minnesota, according to the state patrol Thursday. In eastern South Dakota, an 83-year-old woman died from exposure to the cold after crashing her car, The Associated Press reported.

On Tuesday, four people including a 14-year-old girl were killed in a single-car accident that state police blamed on weather conditions. The vehicle on Interstate 70 in Dickinson County struck a guardrail and went off a bridge, falling around 25 feet, the Kansas Highway Patrol said.

Chicago's Midway International Airport said Thursday that severe cold temperatures were impacting operations and 75 flights were canceled. The Ferris Wheel at the city's Navy Pier was closed Thursday due to weather.

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In New York City's Times Square, people bundled up Thursday amid what the National Weather Service warned was "bone chilling wind chills." Temperatures in Central Park were 16 degrees.

"It's really cold but I love it. My fingers feel like they're going to break but it's OK," Tashena Eason, 28, a registered nurse from Miami, told Reuters.

This week's Arctic blast had more than 65 inches of snow falling in Pennsylvania on the shore of Lake Erie, according to preliminary totals from the weather service — and more snow could hit the region Friday and Saturday.

"I'm running out of places to throw the snow," said one man as he shoveled out his driveway in Erie.

"It is critical to not get caught up in 'here and now' warming or 'where I live warming.'"

Temperatures in Boston are forecast to be mostly in the teens or 20s through New Year's Day. Mayor Marty Walsh said the city was trying to get as many homeless as possible off the streets and into shelters. Wind chill of -7 degrees was recorded at Boston-Logan International Airport Thursday.

"We've seen cold weather, but not this cold," Walsh told NBC Boston. "We're asking if you see somebody out there that seems disoriented or doesn't have the proper clothing on, call 911," he said.

Wind chill advisories were in place across North Dakota and northern Minnesota, and from New York to Maine Thursday, according to the National Weather Service.

In parts of upstate New York, including Old Forge and Warrensburg, a wind chill warning was in effect until 10 a.m. Friday, and forecasters warned that 10 minutes would be all it took for exposed skin to suffer frostbite. Similar warnings were also in place for northern Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, where wind chills of as low as 35 below zero were forecast.

In a stretch of North Dakota including Minot, where temperatures were 9 below zero Thursday, the weather service warned of "life-threatening wind chills" of 50 below zero through New Year's Day.

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